Fast response teams’ vigilance keeps the railway running in TV documentary

The latest episode (Monday 20 March) of Inside King’s Cross: The Railway gives viewers a glimpse of how railway workers’ quick thinking ensures trains can run safely in all situations

The show follows workers on the East Coast Mainline as they deal with major incidents causing disruption on the railway, carry out engineering works, and help passengers.

On the most recent episode, the teams face challenges as varied as responding to shoplifting and the threat of terrorism, to dealing with on-track incidents.

At the Rail Operating Centre in York, LNE route control manager Jerry Dickinson responds to a disruption-causing dewirement, while elsewhere mobile operations manager Stewart McGrath is seen inspecting the site of a reported bridge strike.

Signaller Tom O’Boyle (pictured below) talks about the importance of vigilance when clearing level crossings, and viewers watch him as he controls train movements and level crossing barriers to allow trains to pass over them safely and protect the public.

Safety is the most important aspect of my job. I’m tasked with making sure that trains have a safe path to travel along and that members of the public are protected from trains at level crossings.


We work really hard to get people where they need to be on time. When a disruptive incident occurs, we look at lots of different ways to make up the time and reduce delays for passengers.


I hope the documentary will be a real eye opener and show people all that goes in to keeping the railway running. There are quite a lot of urban myths about the railway, so it would be great to dispel some of those.

Tom O’Boyle, signaller

Eye in the sky

Aerial survey specialist Emma Taylor (pictured top) is also on the programme, explaining how the aerial surveillance team uses the Network Rail helicopter to spot potential track problems.

There’s so much that Network Rail does behind the scenes to keep the railway working smoothly that most people just don’t see.


We use the helicopter to carry out all types of work. We use a thermal imaging camera … This allows us to find any potential faults and fix them before they cause problems, such as delays for passengers.


We also use the helicopter to map the whole of the route, as well as to look for trespassers in partnership with the British Transport Police.

Emma Taylor, aerial survey specialist

Rapid work

The High Output ballast cleaner team ensures there’s a quick turnaround when it comes to maintaining the stones that make up the foundation of the tracks, and viewers have the chance to see them in action during a night shift.

Despite a temperamental tamper, ballast cleaner system manager Darren Jones and Rob Welsh, project ops manager, complete their work in time for the first passenger services of the day.

This episode of Inside King’s Cross: The Railway, and the final episode on Monday 27 March, air on Channel 5 at 21:00.

Catch up with the first episodes